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Suicide Costs South Korea 6.48 Trillion Won Per Year, Socially Speaking
Social Cost of Suicide
Suicide Costs South Korea 6.48 Trillion Won Per Year, Socially Speaking
  • By Jack H. Park
  • February 10, 2015, 09:39
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Seoul's Hannam Bridge over the Han River is decorated with phrases designed to remind would-be suicides of family. The phrases read “Are you busy these days?” “It's really cold,” and “Have you eaten?”, all common phrases that a loved one would say.
Seoul's Hannam Bridge over the Han River is decorated with phrases designed to remind would-be suicides of family. The phrases read “Are you busy these days?” “It's really cold,” and “Have you eaten?”, all common phrases that a loved one would say.

 

The yearly social losses due to suicide have been calculated to be 6.4769 trillion won (US$5.9118 billion) in South Korea.

On Feb. 9, the Health Insurance Policy Research Institute under the National Health Insurance Service attached a monetary figure to the social loss due to suicides in their report titled “Analysis of Social-economic Cost on Major Illnesses to Set Priority of Health Security Policies.”

The research institute calculated the social loss cost by combining the direct costs from medical, transportation, and nursing expenses with indirect costs such as the loss of future income resulting from an earlier death, and losses owing to lowered productivity. 

According to the analysis, the social losses from all illnesses as of 2012 was 120.6532 trillion won (US$110.1262 billion). This figure eats up 8.8 percent of the Gross Domestic Profit (GDP), up by 24.2 percent from 97.1792 trillion won (US$88.7003 billion) in 2008.

The research institute classified all illnesses into 20 categories, among which “damage and addiction” took up the largest portion, at 16.2 percent of the total. 

Damage and addiction includes suicide, injury, and addiction to drugs, biological material, and non-medical materials. Suicide had the highest portion with 33.2 percent of the damage and addiction category.

By gender, men made up 60.5 percent of the total number of suicides, 1.5 times higher than women. By age group, the amount of people in their 60s was 26.8 percent, followed by those in their 50s at 23.5 percent, and those in their 40s at 20.6 percent. In total, people above their 40s comprised 70.9 percent of all suicides in South Korea.

The social cost due to suicide is 42.3 percent of the cost of cancer (15.3382 trillion won, US$13.9999 billion). But cancer accounted for only 12.7 percent of the entire social loss cost from illness, ranking second highest below damage and addiction.